CASH at the AHA Conference
By Nick Wallin
During the first weekend in June, the new directors of the University of Minnesota student group CASH (Campus Atheists, Skeptics, and Humanists) attended the annual conference of the American Humanist Association in Tempe, Arizona.
The weekend was divided into multiple breakout sessions during which participants could choose one of three presentations to watch. Sessions included: a talk by William Lobdell, author of Losing My Religion, describing his de-conversion from Born-Again Christian to atheist; a preview of Humanist chaplain Greg Epstein’s upcoming new book Good Without God, set to release in October; and lectures ranging from “Atheist Ethics” to “Hope in Humanism”. There was also a very interesting presentation on Freethinkers in the Civil Rights Movement by Michael Estes.
There were also a few great speeches by famous freethinkers. Neil deGrasse Tyson, the famous astrophysicist and TV personality, gave an excellent speech on science education and raising inquisitive children. Donald Johanson, the paleo-anthropologist who discovered “Lucy” (Australopithecus afarensis) enlightened the audience with a talk about Darwin and human origins. Biologist, prolific blogger, and Minnesota native PZ Myers gave a speech of his acceptance of the Humanist of the Year award. (Unfortunately, CASH was not able to afford the cost of the banquet to see Myers, our group’s faculty advisor, accept this prestigious award.)
The conference was an overwhelmingly positive experience. The board learned a great deal about what Humanists stand for, and how we freethinkers can and must stand up to change this country and this planet for the better. One message that stuck with me was from Greg Epstein: When we talk about being “good without God”, our focus shouldn’t be on the “without God”; it should be on the “good”.